Realism In The Cold War

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Many international relation scholars use the three main schools of thought, realism, liberalism and constructivism, to understand and analyze states’ behaviors in the international arena. Each of the three theories uniquely explains the reasons behind a state’s behavior in times of peace or during a conflict. Realism is the school of thought that believes that the international system is anarchic and thus the states try to gain material power. On the other hand liberalism focuses on the power of institutions, which are founded on common values and goals of the state, in the international system. The last theory constructivism believes that state goals are a reflection of social norms, values and history of a state. Many scholars today use…show more content…
This paper will analyze the role that NATO played in ending the Cold War according to the different international relation perspectives and the effect that the Cold War had on the different theoretical perspectives. Realism, one of the oldest and most fundamental perspectives of international relations focuses on a states material power in regards to the rest of the international system. According to realists, one of the main ways that a state is able to retain and protect its material power is through balancing. Steven Walt, a realist scholar claims that the balance of threat insinuates that states form alliances in order to protect themselves from other states that not only have greater power but also have a higher level of perceived threat due to various factors (Walt, 1985). Realists view NATO as a military alliance that was established out of the need for the…show more content…
The states that joined NATO were willing to put their personal state goals aside to cooperate and achieve a goal for the common good; in the case of the Cold War defeating the Soviet threat based on its communist ideologies (Walt, 1998). During the Cold War NATO strengthened the trans-Atlantic relations between the countries while simultaneously deterring the Soviet threat through its various institutions (Webber, 2009). Many of NATO’s members had common economic, political and social values thus the connection between the countries was strong, and I believe that this was a driving factor in the outcome of the Cold War. In the late 1980’s, toward the end of the Cold War, Gorbechuv realized that the Soviet Union’s economy was failing and was unable to keep up with NATO so he created liberal policies that were inline with NATO’s policies and ideologies (Doyle, 1996). These new policies led to even further weakening of the Soviet Union, economically and politically and as a result there were revolutions against the communist governments of many of the Warsaw Pact alliance member (Doyle, 1996). By viewing NATO as an institution, it is clear that NATO was able to win the Cold War because it’s member states believed in achieving a common goal even if it meant giving up on their individual state needs or goals. While the member states of NATO

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